“. . . TAKE COURAGE; I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD. . .” (John 16:33)
Six times in the Bible record, the Lord Jesus used the expression “Take courage.” The King James Version of the Bible translates it, “Be of good cheer.” Five of those statements came while our Lord walked on earth in His incarnate body of humiliation; the final time He used those words was after He was glorified and had returned to earth in order to live in and minister through His mystical body, the Church.
In the light of the victorious overcoming theme of this issue, I would like to offer a few thoughts on the words, “Take courage; I have overcome the world.” These words contain the consummating reason that we are invited to be of good cheer. He did not say, “Be of good cheer; you shall overcome the world.” He did not say, “Be of good cheer; I will overcome the world.” He intends that our courage is to issue from the reality that He is the Overcomer; He has overcome the world!
Our ability to overcome is a fruit of our union with Jesus Christ. In fact, everything a Christian possesses is a fruit of union with Jesus Christ. He is righteous — we are in Him so we are declared righteous; He is the Son of God — in Him we are also children of God; He is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. He is elect — by our union with Him we are also elect. Everything is imputed unto us by faith. In our Representative, we have all things. He is dead to sin and alive unto God — in Him we are also dead to sin and alive unto God. We are invited to enter into His rest; He leads us in His triumph! This is why we are invited to be of good cheer. Our ability to overcome is not found in our own strength or courage. He invites us to be of good cheer because, as He said, “I have overcome the world.” Every Christian who has ever overcome any difficulty in life has traced that victory back to the Life of the indwelling Christ.
Wonderful light is shed on the fullness of our Lord’s victorious words, “I have overcome the world,” by relating them to the Apostle John’s description of “the world” in his first epistle. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” (I John 2:16,17)
How comprehensive! The lust of the flesh includes all of the world’s pleasures suited to gratify the sensual part of man; the lust of the eyes includes all the wealth of the world which has only the appearance of value; the boastful pride of life includes the honor and dignity that appeal to man’s pride. The vanity of the world’s pleasures, riches and honor constitutes the world which Jesus proclaims to have overcome.
Over against “the world,” the apostle adds, “but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” On one side is the world; on the other side is the will of God. When Jesus says that He has overcome the world, He is saying, “I have already overcome everything that stands between you and the will of God.” Is that not a wonderful reason to “be of good cheer?” By the overcoming victory of the Lord over the world, not one thing stands between you and the will of God; not one thing stands between me and the will of God. In that light, be strong, be brave, be of good courage, be of good cheer, do not fear, run the race before you, let patience have her perfect work — OVERCOME! Because the Lord Jesus has overcome everything that stands between you and the will of God! Rest!